It’s sad when a useful idea remains nameless. Words help us bring complex concepts into clear focus. Here is a lifestance looking for a label. Can you help find one for it?
What I have in mind is a form of agnosticism. Agnosticism means not knowing if there is a god, or not knowing the truth about some other contentious topic. But there are many kinds of agnosticism. One that I think is both helpful and under-utilized is based on two simple principles:
1. Whenever large numbers of sincere and competent people persistently disagree, we probably do not know who is right.
2. Principle #1 applies to a wide range of topics.
The hallmarks of this lifestance are objectivity and breadth. I have my own opinions about the existence of various sorts of gods, for example, but I also know that I could be mistaken. People who are just as smart and sincere as I am disagree with me about theology. I cannot float up above the fray and say, “Aha, that’s the truth!” Even so, I am sometimes able to sincerely acknowledge the biases and limitations of my own mind. Paradoxically, this realization helps me achieve a sort of objectivity, an ability to partially and temporarily detach from my own opinions. I can apply this principle to many issues, particularly in religion, philosophy, politics, and ethics.
What sort of label fits this wide-ranging meta-perspective? I’ve thought of several, but I’m not sure any of them are good enough.
* Wide-angle agnosticism
* Wide agnosticism
* Big-picture agnosticism
In Bridging the God Gap I speak of broad-spectrum agnosticism, but I’ve been told that sounds like an antibiotic.
So what do you think? And what terms would work for you? All suggestions are welcome!
Roger Christan Schriner
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